Nature conservation in Eastern Europe

The Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation already in 2012 tasked me with finding partners for conservation projects in Eastern Europe in order to design a series of projects with these partners and to find more public benefit foundations to participate in the financing of such projects.

As a first step I established co-operation with EuroNatur, one of Europe’s leading conservation organisations, and the Ciconia Foundation, the transnational Europe-Africa stork project. The two organisations impressed me with their high degree of networking and their co-operation with competent and well-established partners in the respective countries. These NGOs, some of them very small, are strengthened through their collaboration with EuroNatur and CICONIA, meaning that their support remains effective beyond the duration of the project. Both organisations have very long term involvements in the project regions.

The following five projects in Eastern Europe were developed in the course of a workshop with the two organisations and proposed to the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation:

  • Wet meadows and pastures. These valuable habitats are of great significance for species protection in Europe and are under intense pressure as regards their use. Typical species living here such as the common snipe, tree frog and white stork are becoming increasingly rare. The project is carried out in co-operation with the network of European Stork Villages. Local action plans are being developed in the selected areas, resulting in comprehensive habitat improvements and the implementation of mini-projects.
  • Network of protected areas for the River Sava. The “SAVA PARKS” network is supported by NGOs and municipalities along the River Sava in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. The EuroNatur-CICONIA project will strengthen the network, which aims to oppose pointless infrastructure projects to expand the navigability of this natural gem with strategies for sustainable development and nature-friendly tourism.
  • Storks as the subject of an environmental education project. Environmental education in schools, taking the stork as an example, contributes to the long-term sustainability of nature conservation and environmental protection. At the same time, local environmental organisations can make use of the project to implement extensive activities to safeguard and improve habitats. Environmental education is now underway in Slovakia, Hungary, the Ukraine and Belarus and is to be extended to other countries.
  • Black stork in the Ukraine and Belarus. In the border region between the Ukraine and Belarus exist landscapes that feature near-pristine forests and wetlands to an extent no longer found in Western Europe. This is the optimal habitat for the elusive black stork, but pressure of use on these habitats is constantly increasing. Co-operation with the authorities and NGOs has allowed these unspoilt forest areas to be preserved and protected as a habitat for the black stork, which also benefits many other rare and endangered species such as the lesser spotted eagle, several species of woodpeckers, not to mention wolves and beavers.
  • The fifth project in this series is dedicated to protecting Europe’s last great virgin beech forests.

The Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation (AVJCF) agreed with this proposal. In co-operation with AVJCF, EuroNatur and CICONIA, other foundations were inspired to assist with the projects, making generous contributions in addition to the financial support provided by AVJCF. So far, several million euros have been raised for the implementation of the five projects.
Building on this success story, other projects have been added such as the protection of pristine Balkan rivers from their destruction, the protection of Carpathian primeval forests from legal and illegal logging and other projects.

In 2021 an important cooperation among foundations for the protection of mediterranean wetlands (DIMFE) was started.

More examples